"Our government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. For good or for ill it teaches the whole people by its example.
Crime is contagious. If the government becomes a law breaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself."
–Supreme Court Justice Brandeis

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Murder-Suicide, Filicide, Familicide - Call it what you want they are still dead


The other day I posted about the study that was conducted that showed that all the shooters in family murder-suicides are men. This is something that I keep running across as I read the news, watch the news, even when I am just stumbling around the internet.

Have we as a society become numb to the violence that is on our TV’s and in our papers everyday, simply because it IS there everyday? Is this why many are just not paying attention to these almost weekly killings of families?

Many things are blamed for this or rather, given as excuses; from the poor economy to prescription drugs and just about everything in between. One article that I found about this that pretty ran the gamut of reasons can be read HERE. It was that article that made me start thinking back to the one that I posted the other day. Of course every time someone writes about a parent killing their children (with or without killing the spouse) the names Andrea Yates and Susan Smith come up.

I can not lump them in with these men that are annihilating their ENTIRE families. This is a separate issue all together and one that we are seeing happen on the average of about once a week lately. I have a theory, of course I do...

On this site: http://anonymums.blogspot.com/2009/04/murder-suicide-epidemic-larger.html I found an interesting side to this backed up by some research. This closely resembles my own theory as to why this is going on and it really has nothing to do with the economy or any external factors.

An excerpt from the Journal of American Academy of Psychiatry and Law Online:

Filicide-Suicide: Common Factors in Parents Who Kill Their Children and Themselves

Susan Hatters Friedman, MD, Debra R. Hrouda, MSSA, Carol E. Holden, PhD, Stephen G. Noffsinger, MD and Phillip J. Resnick, MD

In the report of Somander and Rammer12 from Sweden, the average age of children in filicide-suicide was 6.5 years, and 70 percent of the perpetrators were fathers. This was virtually identical to the average age of children in our U.S. study (6.8 years and 67% fathers, respectively).

Twice as many fathers as mothers committed filicide-suicide in our study. This is in keeping with findings in previous studies and the higher male suicide rate. Two-thirds of fathers attempted to kill their wives, while no mother attempted to kill her husband. This may be related to a more proprietary attitude of men toward the family.21 The sample spans many years before the women’s liberation movement when men were likely to be the only breadwinners.

The most frequent method of filicide-suicide was by shooting, a method that is likely to succeed in both filicide and suicide. Similarly, in U.S. newspaper reports of homicide-suicides, 90 percent of perpetrators used firearms.22


Dietz described familicide perpetrators as:

Family annihilators, usually the senior man of the house, who is depressed, paranoid, intoxicated or a combination of these. He kills each member of the family who is present, sometimes including pets. He may commit suicide after killing the others, or may force the police to kill him [Ref 23, p 482].

Our sample is consistent with this description. Of the 11 men who attempted to kill the entire family, 5 were depressed, 3 were paranoid, and 2 had alcohol in their systems.

A North Carolina study of homicide-suicide included seven cases of familicide-suicide.24 None of the men had histories of domestic violence, while three had histories of mental illness, and two had criminal histories. Of our sample of 11 men who committed familicide-suicides, 2 had a known history of domestic violence, 5 had utilized mental health services, and 2 had criminal histories. Morton and colleagues noted familicide-suicides were often "preceded by a range of factors including severe depression and suicidal ideation in the perpetrator, ongoing marital conflict, perpetrator anger over separation, and illness in the victim and perpetrator’s child" (Ref. 24, p 97). Our sample showed many of the same themes, with the addition of financial stressors.

Perpetrators of familicide have been classified as accusatory killers or despondent killers.21 Accusatory killers had a grievance against their wives and often a history of violence. The despondent killer is described as "a depressed and brooding man, who may apprehend impending disaster for himself and his family, and who sees familicide followed by suicide as ‘the only way out’" (Ref 21, pp 287–8). Our data showed more altruistic killings—that is, committed by despondent killers rather than accusatory ones—though occasionally characteristics of both types were seen.

All of that being said, I believe that as a society we are all too often turning our heads to the violence that goes on right in our own communities. We ‘know’ of child abuse or spousal abuse and domestic violence that is taking place right next to us and all around us. Rather than taking steps to protect the victims most turn a blind eye and act shocked when the father kills every single member of his family. At which point everyone scrambles to explain away this happening. “He was being treated for depression” “Things were tight financially because his hours were cut” Bullshit!

Another factor that has played into this is that in far too many courts around the world judges are not taking into account any abuse or domestic violence that may have lead to the situation of divorce and subsequently the ensuing custody battle. These judges are punishing protective mothers for well...being protective, and thus ‘awarding’ (yep that is what they call it) these abusive fathers with custody of the children. This is giving a signal to the entire world that abuse in all of its myriad of forms is just fine.

So, with family court judges ruling in this manner and reporters spinning these deaths in the light of the current fashion...it is no wonder that we are still having them and they are increasing with time. Fairly soon we will be a world so numb to this that it will not even be reported as it is now. The sensationalism will wear off and no one will care.

I leave you with this last thought and question: If you are not part of the solution then by default you are part of the problem. Which are you?

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